Saturday, April 25, 2009

Krugman Refutes Idea that Seeking Truth about the Past Will Interfere with Moving Forward

Contrary to the eternal obfuscations of politicians who would like to claim otherwise, Truth-telling about the Past directly serves the present and future needs of democratic government and policymaking for any Nation that wants to move forward after a period when its traditions of laws and democratic accountability have been betrayed and broken.

In a brief but eloquent editorial in yesterday's (4/24) NY Times titled "Reclaiming America's Soul-Why We Can't Let the Abuses Slide," Paul Krugman--who has emerged as our nation's truth-teller in chief--directly confronts and reveals the folly of the ad nauseam arguments being made in Congress and by the Obama administration (including the President himself) suggesting that seeking the Truth about the Past will somehow interfere with Moving Forward in the Present.

Krugman puts the pin to this big balloon of rhetorical obfuscation and political hot air:
What about the argument that investigating the Bush administration's abuses will impede efforts to deal with the crises of today? Even if that were true - even if truth and justice came at a high price - that would arguably be a price we must pay: LAWS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ENFORCED ONLY WHEN CONVENIENT. . .
The only way we can regain our moral compass, not just for the sake of our position in the world, but for the sake of our own national conscience, is to investigate how that happened, and, if necessary, to prosecute those responsible.
And in response to the constantly repeated suggestion that pursuing proper investigation of potential crimes of the Bush era would be distracting to the work of the present Obama administration, Krugman offers the following rejoinder:
Would investigating the crimes of the Bush era really divert time and energy needed elsewhere? Let's be concrete: whose time and energy are we talking about?

Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, wouldn't be called away from his efforts to rescue the economy. Peter Orszag, the budget director, wouldn't be called away from his efforts to reform health care. Steven Chu, the energy secretary, wouldn't be called away from his efforts to limit climate change. Even the president needn't, and indeed shouldn't, be involved. All he would have to do is let the Justice Department do its job - which he's supposed to do in any case - and not get in the way of any Congressional investigations.

I don't know about you, but I think America is capable of uncovering the truth and enforcing the law even while it goes about its other business.
Krugman throws down the gauntlet to the Obama administration and to Congressional leaders by going to the heart of what is at stake in the ongoing struggle to reclaim America's soul.

In stressing the seriousness of the work at hand related to uncovering the truth of what happened re: authorizations of torture during the Bush era, Krugman raises the crucial question that needs to be posed to Congressional leaders and the Obama administration: Will they stand up and support the hard work of investigation and truth-telling that will be required to reclaim America's soul after the disastrous years of the Bush administration, or will they continue to obstruct this hard work?
For the fact is that officials in the Bush administration instituted torture as a policy, misled the nation into a war they wanted to fight and, probably, tortured people in the attempt to extract "confessions" that would justify that war. And during the march to war, most of the political and media establishment looked the other way.

It's hard, then, not to be cynical when some of the people who should have spoken out against what was happening, but didn't, now declare that we should forget the whole era - for the sake of the country, of course.
This is perhaps the most telling point in Krugman's brief editorial. And it is now up to the People of this nation to make sure their leaders, including President Obama, understand that WE will not accept another 4 years of a government policy of burying heads in the sand to AVOID facing the Truth--in the DELUDED BELIEF that ignoring the truth is the best thing for this country.

As Krugman concludes, by showing the deceptive rhetorical strategy behind the repeated suggestion that seeking the truth of the past somehow implies vindictiveness--
Sorry, but what we really should do for the sake of the country is have investigations both of torture and of the march to war. These investigations should, where appropriate, be followed by prosecutions - not out of vindictiveness, BUT BECAUSE THIS IS A NATION OF LAWS.

We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn't about looking backward, it's about looking forward - because it's about reclaiming America's soul.
AMEN, Paul Krugman, and THANK YOU for being someone who is willing to use his public voice and authority to stand up for the truth rather than to obstruct it. Now if only more people in power would learn to follow your example.

Contrary to the eternal obfuscations of politicians who would like to claim otherwise, Truth-telling about History Serves the Needs of democratic government and policymaking in the Present if we want to move forward.

The worst thing for a democracy and a nation of laws to do is to cover up the truth of the past under the delusion that doing so will somehow benefit the future. As history has abundantly shown, such deluded thinking does more than anything to condemn a nation to the darkness of a present and future of repeated abuses of truth and government; and only a clear break with such ways of thinking and governmental practice can ever help to liberate a nation from the curse that such past practices will otherwise continue to inflict on its present and future.

History and just democratic government demand that nations hold themselves accountable for past crimes for the sake of their own--as well as humanity's--present and future. And a democratic people's authority to demand such accountability from their government is most important precisely when politicians continue to refuse to admit the need for such accountability.

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